An assistive technology is used in health and social care to meet the needs of patients or individuals with disabilities. It offers numerous health and social benefits to individuals which trickle down to social and health organisations (Robitaille 2010). Nevertheless, assistive technology is also characterised by various disadvantages such as aggravating the patient’s health condition. Therefore, it is imperative to compare both benefits and shortcomings of technologies in social and health care before its use. This essay paper explains the health and safety considerations one has to make before the use of technologies in health and social care.
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In order to establish a structure and regulations for the workplace, the Parliament of the United Kingdom has developed the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 (also referred to as HSWA 1974). The purpose of the Act is to provide a careful description of the duties and responsibilities of the employers, workers, the people operating machines and managing premises, authorities and maintenance staff. The main objective of the Act is to provide workplace security. The act has a purpose to protect the employees from workplace accidents that could result in injuries or casualties, to secure the safety and welfare of workers of all kinds, to keep the use of dangerous substances (highly flammable, toxic, explosive) under-qualified control. The Act determines the structure and outlines the necessary rules of behaviour at the workplace of any kind. The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 requires the employers to conduct timely maintenance and keep the equipment safe, to provide information and guidance concerning workplace safety to the employees, to treat the working process responsibly, and to make sure that the working environments are secure and suitable for the operations carried out there. In turn, the employees are to cooperate with the employers, to report potential dangers or failures of the equipment, and to avoid unnecessary workplace risks leading to the endangerment of their security and health. Generally, the individuals are warned from treating rules concerning health and safety recklessly or ignoring them.
The vast majority of the modern workplaces employ assistive technologies as necessary parts of the working process. Operating these technologies, the employees are to remember about the main health and safety considerations. The first such consideration is the negative effects of the assistive technology on individual’s health. Mainly, assistive devices are meant to help patients on their daily tasks. For instance, when she lost her memory, Sally was able to do her daily tasks using “PocketCoach,” a device that reminded her daily “dos”. Notably, some of the devices tend to have negative effects on individuals. For instance, Sally’s eye patch aggravated her sight condition. In a different vein, the long-term use of crutches and wheelchairs may lead to the compression of nerves (Hsu, Michael, Fisk & American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons 2008). Therefore, it is important to consider whether the assistive technology has a negative effect on the health of the patients.
One needs to consider the reliability of the assistive technology in terms of the safety check (Hersh & Johnson 2010). Before purchasing or recommending any assistive device to a patient, it is important to ensure that it conforms to the recommended standards. The assistive device, whose quality is below the recommended standard, may injure a patient or aggravate the current disability. According to O’Reilly (2004), implanted devices, such as substandard intraocular lenses, are linked to blindness and serious infections to elderly people. From the case study, Sally’s use of an eye patch led to a weakness and numbness in her right eye. Thus, the reliability should always be considered before using the assistive technology.
There is a need to consider the effectiveness of the assistive technology. The assistive technology should always aim at meeting the needs of the patients on the basis of the underlying conditions (Hersh & Johnson 2010). In effectiveness, the issue is whether the device really works. In the case of Sally, the eye patch disoriented her so that she was not able to go to work or drive. The effectiveness of the assistive technology is determined in terms of the impact the assistive devices have towards the needs and life of the patient (Cook & Polgar 2008). Therefore, only assistive devices that are effective in terms of the health and social care should be recommended to the patients.
In retrospect, one needs to consider whether the device interrupts the recovery process of the patient. Actually, in a case of an injury, assistive devices are supposed to help in the recovery process (Johansson & Chinworth 2012). Notably, the introduction of a recovery device should be done on the basis of the assessment of the patient to ensure that it does not interrupt the progress of recovery. Therefore, the patients should be encouraged to use assistive devices that do not interrupt the progress of their health recovery.
In conclusion, there is a need to consider several health and safety factors before using the assistive technology in the health and social care. These factors include the negative effects, reliability, the interruptions of health recovery progress and the effectiveness of the assistive devices. For instance, the assistive device that curtails the health recovery progress of an individual should not be recommended to the patients. Lastly, people should use assistive technology that promotes independence in their daily tasks.
Cook, AM & Polgar, JM 2008, Cook & Hussey’s assistive technologies, Mosby Elsevier, St Louis, Missouri.
Hersh, M & Johnson, MA 2010, Assistive technology for visually impaired and blind people, Springer Science & Business Media, London, UK.
Hsu, JD, Michael, JW, Fisk, JR and American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons 2008, AAOS atlas of orthoses and assistive devices, Mosby Elsevier, Philadelphia, PA.
Johansson, C & Chinworth SA 2012, Mobility in context: principles of patient care skills, F.A. Davis Company, Philadelphia, PA.
O’Reilly, JT 2004, The lawyer’s guide to elder injury and accident compensation, American Bar Association, Chicago, Illinois.
Robitaille, S 2010, The illustrated guide to assistive technology and devices: tools and gadgets for living independently, Demos Medical Publishing, New York, NY.